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But some civil liberties lawyers and activists say the stings resemble witch hunts, and deflect attention from more important crimes.
Antonio Castro, the assistant district attorney for the Bronx who is running against Ms.
Virtually all those arrested have pleaded guilty, and the conviction rate so far is 100 percent.'' They were the first ones out there,'' said Steve Treglia, a spokesman for the Nassau County District Attorney's office, which studied the Westchester approach before starting its own undercover sting operation in the spring.
The sting operations appear to be very popular with parents.
They prepare themselves by watching MTV and learning the language of teenagers online, including ''emoticons,'' smiley faces and other symbols often used online.
It doesn't take long for someone to send the investigator an ''instant message'' and begin a private conversation, Mr. In some cases, pedophiles find the investigator without even going to a chat room, by ''profile surfing'' -- checking the descriptions Internet users supply of themselves -- to find a child in a nearby town.
Typically the male initiates this signal, as an attempt to attract a female that can give an honest reply to his liking.'' Others take aim at the stings themselves, saying they border on entrapment and are aimed at people who might not otherwise have committed a crime. Pirro dismissed those concerns, saying her investigators are careful never to make sexual overtures in their online conversations, always waiting for the respondent to make an advance.